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One of the most shocking things I ever learned from The Family was the term "smash your pride". It was shocking because I had never in my whole life heard anyone talk about dealing with pride in such a "violent" way. Even on those few occasions when pride is confronted at all in the church world, the approach is usually a passive one, that supposedly lets God deal with it while we ourselves are under a spiritual anaesthetic.

The usual approach is to get upset about the pride we see in others, but God help anyone who dares to take a personal role in dealing with our own pride!

In The Family we were instructed to "stamp on your pride". For most of us, jumping out of an aeroplane or walking on a bed of hot coals would be easier than stamping on our pride. Our mind may see the good that could come from being more humble, but aggressively confronting our pride and telling it to go to hell is just too much. So we cling to our "identity", defend our righteousness, and just generally ignore the problem on the grounds that it is too much to ask that we should literally smash it in a single moment of time.

There is even a popular Christian chorus that says we must "defend each man's dignity and protect each man's pride." See, if we're not consciously smashing our pride, we're defending it. There is no middle ground where a person is just moderately humble.

I'm not talking about putting on a humble act. That approach is fraught with self-deception, and really proves nothing at all. Some of the proudest people in the world will boast of their humility, or tell you that they are pitiful sinners except for the grace of God.

But the real battle against pride is one that must be faced each time someone criticises us. How can we say that we have humbled ourselves before God, whom we haven't seen, if we can't humble ourselves before our brothers and sisters, whom we have seen? It's not good enough to smile politely and nod our heads. Really smashing our pride means wholeheartedly accepting the truth in what is being said.

Someone recently wrote to us saying, "I only work on my pride as much as I want to, which is a fair bit less than you would want me to. I'm not tough enough to grind my pride into the ground."

Our reply: "How much do you think God wants you to work on your pride?"

It's so easy to pretend that it is only some nasty enemy or overzealous critic who is attacking our pride, and that God doesn't expect us to deal with it as ruthlessly as that person does. And it's just as easy to tell ourselves that pride is something which must be dealt with in a kind of evolutionary way... a little at a time, rather than "grinding it into the ground". This is strong delusion.

It's like the man who had a pet dog that needed its tail cut off, and because he loved the dog, he decided to cut it off a little at a time. Such an approach only multiplies the agony.

In most spiritual matters, growth is more revolutionary than evolutionary. Once the decision has been made it may require years of faithfulness to stay with it; but the initial (or perhaps we should say final) decision is all or nothing.

There came a day when the prodigal son made a conscious and dramatic decision to leave home. He may have thought about it for months, but the final action took place in a single day. And he needed to make just as conscious and dramatic a decision to return. (Luke 15:11-21) He could not sneak back into his father's house a little at a time. So he gathered his pride and dumped it at his father's feet as he begged to be taken back just as a servant.

It's true that his father was loving and gracious and took him back as a son. But it was only because the son had smashed his pride first. And that is the beautiful thing about smashing your pride for God. He always has something better for us. You can cherish your precious identity as a daggy pig feeder; or you can trade it all in for the glorious liberty that comes to those who have smashed their pride and become the sons of God!

The choice is yours. If you're not smashing your pride, you're feeding it.

(See also Losing Your Identity.)

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